Former US president Barack Obama on Friday said Washington does not distinguish between terrorist groups which target India and those that target the United States.
He was speaking at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit — an annual meeting of business tycoons, world leaders and Nobel laureates.
This year’s theme at the summit is “The Irreversible Rise of India”.
During the summit, while speaking to journalist Karan Thapar, Obama pointed out a “consistent problem” that Washington has faced in its relationship with Pakistan.
“Pakistan has been in many ways a partner in fighting against certain terrorist outfits,” Obama said. However, he added that, “there are some elements that sometimes have not been good partners with us.”
The former president went on to say that it was a “source of frustration” that connections are made between “explicit terrorist organisations based in Pakistan and elements that are connected to various more official entities inside of Pakistan.”
“But that’s not just true for organisations directed at India, it is also true for organisations, like Haqqani, that [have]killed US soldiers.”
Osama Bin Laden’s whereabouts: Pakistan complicit or unaware?
Another question Thapar posed to the former US president concerned the 2011 capture of Osama Bin Laden from Abbottabad and Pakistan’s role in the matter.
Thapar asked whether Pakistan had been hiding the Al Qaeda founder and was, therefore, complicit. “Or, unaware and incompetent?”
In response, Obama said that “we had no evidence that Pakistan was aware of his presence — that is something that we looked at.”
Thapar also told Obama that “many Indians feel that when it comes to questions of terror, the terror we face is treated differently from the one you face.”
“America makes a distinction between the terror groups in Pakistan, like the Haqqani Network, which target American interests in Afghanistan and terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba [LeT], which primarily target this country,” Thapar said.
“That’s not how we viewed it,” Obama responded.
India has alleged that the LeT was responsible for the 2008 attacks that rocked India’s financial hub. The allegation has been supported by Washington.
Obama recalled that at the time of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Washington was “just as obsessed with how to dismantle that network [LeT] as the Indians.”
In 2012, Washington had announced a $10 million bounty for Hafiz Saeed, the chief of the proscribed group Jamaatud Dawa, which is known to be affiliated with the LeT.
“Our intelligence and military personnel were immediately deployed to work with the Indian government in any way,” Obama added.
“There is a historic recognition that terrorism of any sort, directed at any country, metastasises,” Obama added, elaborating on his view.